With a place as richly diverse and culturally influenced by surrounding countries, Bosnia-Herzegovina is an excellent place for a student exchange. From the gorgeous Dinaric Alps to the stunning blue water that flows through the major cities, such as Sarajevo and Mostar, not only is this country visually sturdy, but chock full of history with the Ottoman Empire and the Bosnian War that took place not 20 years ago. Bosnia offers the famous Stari Most in Mostar and Baščaršija (Bash-char-she-uh) or Old Town Sarajevo. Surrounded by three other countries, all once part of former Yugoslavia, Bosnia has taken on its own name and is thrilling to explore!
Geography & Demographics
Bosnia-Herzegovina is located in eastern Europe, right across the Adriatic Sea from Italy, nestled between Croatia, Serbia, and Montenegro. Bosnia’s capital city is Sarajevo and it has so much to offer! With Old Town on one side, Vrelo Bosna - a gorgeous park situated at the bottom of a mountain with trees and lakes - on the other, you can’t go wrong. Not to mention the Olympic Stadiums from the 1984 Winter Olympics and museums throughout the city. There are nearly four million people living in Bosnia, making cities such as Sarajevo and Mostar not over crowded and easy to maneuver.
Bosnia is split into four very distinct seasons. Spring is sunny and warm, with scattered rainy days, but overall pleasant. Summer is hot and mildly humid, from being situated in the valley of the Dinaric Alps. Once autumn hits around mid-September the leaves change and it begins to get cooler with a bit of rain, until winter hits in late November when the snow begins to fall and the city of Sarajevo is then covered in a sheet of white. The best visiting seasons for Bosnia are late spring, around the beginning of May. The weather is warm and manageable and overall very pleasant.
Food & Culture
Bosnians love their food! One of their favorites is ćevapi (cheh-vap-ee), which is a dense bread, “meat fingers”, and onion all stuffed together. You’ll find many ćevapi places throughout Bosnia and it’s delicious! Bosnian cuisine has been influenced by Turkey and its surrounding countries, but all of it is worthy of high praise, especially if you get a local bosanka (Bosnian woman) to make it!
Bosnians are friendly and welcoming, never forgetting to take you into their home and give you a cup of coffee and cake. They are outgoing and yet they don’t mind spending their day at home relaxing with their friends and family. Family, especially, is very important to them. The three main religions in Bosnia-Herzegovina are Judaism, Islam, and Serb-Orthodox. This has caused turmoil over the years, however, many people have put their differences aside and say that their religion doesn’t matter for them to be friends.
The national language of Bosnia-Herzegovina is Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian or BCS. All are very similar with only a few differences among them, however for English speakers, it’s very easy to communicate in the popular areas of the city as most people do speak English. Bosnia isn’t very expensive at all. They use the Bosnian mark (KM) which is roughly converts to 2 USD to every 3 KM.
Things to Do
Sarajevo is a happening place! In the summer there is the Film Festival and in autumn the Sarajevo Fashion Weeks; throughout the year there are concerts and events held in the city. No matter what, there is always something to do. Traveling south to Mostar, you’ll see the famous Stari Most - a bridge destroyed and rebuilt during the Bosnian War - where during the warmer months jumpers will tease the audience for cheers and money until they leap from the bridge into the river below...79 feet below. Bosnia has its fill of natural beauty to visit and see, and there’s never a moment without it.
Study in Bosnia & Herzegovina
Bosnia is a wonderful place to study. With its incredible cultural diversity and history, you can’t go wrong. Programs are typically year-long events, full of plenty of cultural excursions throughout the country to many inspiring, beautiful, and memorable sites. Be ready to eat, a lot. Every home you visit will have someone there ready to feed you and serve you coffee, willing to talk about you and your life. The younger generation knows English very well, but it’s always helpful to know Bosnian to speak with the adults.
Popular areas to study are the American University of Sarajevo as well as its multiple universities for law, business, and medicine. The schooling system is similar to the International Baccalaureate program and it’s never a problem to get to school with all of Sarajevo’s public transportation. There are trams, trolleys, buses, and taxis, so the only thing you have to fear about missing your public transportation is if GRAS (the public transportation company) goes on strike, which happens every few months due to lack of funds. To travel in surrounding cities and even surrounding countries, there is the Centrotrans buses or the train that provides a fun and fast way of travel.
As to actually living in Bosnia-Herzegovina, there is always a place to live. There are apartments all over the city in New Sarajevo, in Old Sarajevo, and spread out across the country. Not to mention programs to help you find a host family to live with if that’s what you’re looking for instead.